New Orleans

Our drive to New Orleans coincided with a huge storm hitting middle America and the east coast, which gave us a whole day of rain to look forward to. As Floridians, were used to driving in the rain. But driving an RV amongst people who don’t know how to drive in the rain could spell disaster. So we took precautions – we left early and drove under the speed limit the whole way. We may have annoyed some people, but we got to our destination in one piece.

We pulled into a Walmart to grab lunch for the boys when Damon realized the car battery was dead. I have no idea why the battery keeps dieing – Damon thinks it’s the extra things in the car (like our heated seats), that are draining the battery. On the plus side, we bought that battery at a Walmart, so we were able to return the dead one and got a replacement for free!

Our RV park is located just a few miles from downtown New Orleans, which means it’s pretty small and tight. At least we’d be able to get to local attractions quickly. I’d been looking forward to the pool here, but the weather didn’t look promising – cold and rainy.

Thanks to the time changes, fall back plus moving over a time zone, the boys were asleep by 7! Always nice to go to bed early, but it meant an early morning for us the next day.

As predicted, it was cold and rainy, so we took our crazy boys to the Louisiana Children’s Museum. This is exactly what they needed. This two-story facility was filled with hands on activities perfect for the boys. We spent three hours there before they needed lunch. In fact, the museum worked so well, that both boys fell asleep after they had lunch.

After some thrifting, we decided to head back to the RV. The owner of the park warned us that the main highways basically becomes a parking lot from 3p-6p. Don’t have to tell us twice!

The next day was another early, cold, and wet morning. No problem – we headed to the aquarium!

Damon was hesitant to visit as our last few visits to aquariums weren’t very successful. As we approached the building, mini-man got very excited and started talking about sish. Always a good sign.

One saving grace was the aquarium was completely dead. Little-dude had fallen asleep, so mini-man and I were able to just sit and look at fish for as long as we needed.

This aquarium was an amazing combination of detailed exhibits while being interesting for kids. It was also the perfect size for kids to walk around and not get too tired.

The next day we were finally given some dry, sunny weather. We took advantage and took the boys to a local park. In addition to being an amazing playground, it was house in a beautiful park filled with old oak trees.

While the boys played, we noticed a train going around the park and learned that just a few feet a way was a small, kids amusement park.

After we finished the playground, we searched out the train and made the last one of the day. It wrapped the perimeter of the whole park – one of the longest kid trains we’d found. It was so calming that both boys fell asleep.

Of course, as soon as we got back to the car, they both woke up. So we decided to head to Cafe Du Monde. Everything I’ve ever read or heard from people about New Orleans is that Cafe Du Monde is a must.

And I can see why. Despite being busy, we found a table quickly and got served instantly. As soon as the server brought out the beniets, little-dude dove right in. I think he at half of our order! After I had half of one, I offered it to mini-man, who, to our shock, tried! And liked it! He kept shouting ‘YUMMY!’. You know it’s good if the picky three year liked it.

Afterwards, we walked around the French Quarter a bit, enjoying the architecture and the atmosphere.

Our last in New Orleans was absolutely perfect outside and we had nothing planned. However, mini-man started talking about wild animals, which inspired us to visit the Audobon Zoo.

And I am so glad we visited. This was by far the best zoos we’ve ever visited. The quality of each exhibit and habitat was outstanding – lots of detail, an ability to get close to the animals without compromising animal comfort, and a variety of exhibits to explore.

Everywhere we walked, there was something new to see. Although it’s a large zoo, it felt small and cozy. My favorite things was the oak tree lined pathways. These are old trees and I appreciated that the park maintained them and worked them into the expert of the park.

My other favorite part was their attention to children. Many zoo provide a playground and that’s it. In addition to a playground at the front, the zoo offered a water play area and climbing structures, with slides, in each area of the park. It was a great way to see the animals with the boys and let them play at the same time. It was the very first time we’d stayed at a place from open to close.

We did so much at this stop and I feel like we got a very good feel for the city of New Orleans. I’m glad it’s close to Orlando. We hope to come back soon and spend some more time there. But, for now, it’s time to get to Florida!

Advertisements

The Dash to Nashville – Escaping Hurricane Irma

Thanks to Hurricane Irma, instead of having a nice, relaxing beach trip for the next few weeks, we’ve had to change our plans and get as far north as fast as we can.

We left Orlando on Thursday, September 7, early in the morning. Since we have kids, we broke the trip up into three legs – 1) Fl/Ga Border 2) Atlanta 3) Nashville. Each leg should have been 3-4 hours each. Unfortunately, we were trying to leave along with hundreds, of thousands of other people. Our first leg took us over eight hours! We found out later that this was short compared to other people who tried to leave on Friday, who experienced 14-20 hour long drives.

At the Fl/Ga border, we stopped at an RV park, called Eagles Roost. I called a few days in advance for a reservation and super glad I did – we managed to get one of the last sites. Lots of RV families were leaving and this place was the closest, and nicest, places on the border.

And I could see why – this place was absolutely beautiful. The sites might be a little close for some, but we didn’t mind. Everyone we met was super friendly and the noise settled down pretty early in the night. The staff we very friendly and accommodating – the were really trying to help people find places to go. I wish we could have stayed longer, but this location was still in the danger zone, so we proceeded to Atlanta the next day.

We traveled the route to Atlanta with the same people from before who were all trying to escape the storm. So another leg, which should have been four hours, became nine hours! I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to get to our campsite – Shoal Creek Resort.

This place was amazing – beautiful campsites surrounded by trees and water. It was calming just to stand there outside of the trailer. It was so great that none of us, including the cats, wanted to stay inside.

Luckily, we stayed here two nights and were able to take advantage of the property. During our stay, we played near the lake, walked around, and had a wonderful cook-out – complete with s’mores!

Of course, while we were enjoying ourselves, Hurricane Irma strengthened and changed course. As we were preparing to leave, Atlanta issued their first ever tropical storm warning – with high winds and flooding expected. Luckily, we hadn’t planned to stay there to long and headed to Nashville.

We’ve been told that Rock island State Park is one of the best places to stay and they were right. This small campsite has lots of trails to hike and sites to see. The kids had fun exploring and playing. And we had another cook-out. These are quickly becoming my favorite part of RV life.

Next up, Kentucky!

On the Road at Last

We did it! The house is listed, the trailer is setup, the car is prepped – time to get this show on the road. Of course. For our first time picking up and leaving, it took a little effort to actually leave:

  1. You have to stow everything! And with a very curious toddler around, you can imagine how hard it was to get everything put away. Damon had to go back at one point after we got into the car to pick up some last minute things
  2. Once things are stowed you can’t get to anything until you reach your destination (unless you want to squeeze your way through). So I had to prepare several snack bags for everyone in the car.
  3. Triple check everything! For an RV to work it needs to be plugged and hooked up to lots of things. Damon got in the car and almost drove off before he saw that the power was still hooked up. Then he forgot that the propane was still on. Lesson learned – do several walk arounds before leaving.
  4. Driving in rain is hard. Of course we leave just as one of our lovely Florida thunderstorms shows up, making it a little harder to steer the car (it’s very bumpy back here)

Not too bad for beginner, especially with two young children to care for as well. Hopefully we’ll get faster as we progress. For now, we are thrilled to be on the road, heading to Fort de Soto, Florida.

Home, Sweet Home … For Now

We bought our RV and SUV a few days before little-dude joined our family. We decided to take a small break from moving to adjust to being a family of four and allow me time to heal from child birth. 

Two weeks ago, we talked with our Realtor and are getting the house ready to sell. Which means we need a place to put the RV. After some research we found a cute place close to the house so we could be nearby while we sell the house and move into the RV. 

The actual trip to the RV resort was nerve racking for me – this made it real. Everything’s been abstract for months but actually seeing the resort made it real. And I have to admit, I’m still nervous. This is such a drastic change from what I’m used to. 

However, I’m also kinda excited – the resort is walking distance to parks, restaurants, and much more. Now we will have the opportunity to get out more as a family. 

It took some time to get the RV here as the place we bought it from kept “losing” our moving information. Thankfully, we managed to get the RV to it’s new home a few days ago.

We now have about half our stuff in the RV and spent our first official night. So far, so good. We still have some work to do, but it’s getting there.

Adulting

image

I have dealt with this for a long time – the thoughts that are ingrained into our heads telling us that we are broken when in reality we are perfect.

image

I spent a long time copying others so I could fit in. And by 25 I had it all (at least that’s what my mother told me) – in was married, had a degree, a house, and friends. I had it all? But who says this is what we are supposed to want? Who are these people that make up these rules?

image

So while I appeared to have it all on the outside, in the inside of was really unhappy. One day I’d had enough and decided to change things. I went back to school, interned, volunteered and, for the first time, felt like I was doing what I was supposed to do.

image

This change had unforeseen consequences. Since I was happier it inspired happiness in Damon which, in turn, made our relationship stronger. However, this new happiness made other relationships weaker.

image

Very quickly, those who weren’t my true friends or unsupportive of my new life simple fizzled away. No dramatics, no problems – they just disappeared. There are times that I miss these relationships. But then I realize that I am so much happier with my life now without them. I don’t miss the drama or the stress. Life is so much easier and happier without all of that mess.

So for me I choose my happiness. I can’t control others and really don’t want to. I just want to enjoy my life by being who I am and not by being what others want me to be.

Lessons learned – Disneyland

image

As a life-long theme park addict (seriously – I have pictures of me at Disneyland when I’m only a few months old), I thought I knew it all when it came to navigating theme parks. I. Was. Wrong! Here are some great lessons I learned from our first trip to Disneyland with kids:

image

  • Plan Ahead of Time: Before kids I had no limits to what I wanted to do and when. Now that I have Mini-man with me, it became very important to pay attention to height requirements and ride appropriateness. Some things might be too loud or scary for little ones, even if they meet the minimum ride requirements.                                                                                                                                                 All of this information is available on-line. I suggest noting which attractions you think would be best before you arrive.
  • Be Prepared: admit it – you sang those words 😁. Going to a theme park takes some preparation. I recommend lots of water, sunscreen, and really comfortable shoes. Also, Disney can be expensive so bringing some snacks for all to enjoy will go a long way.
  • Take Your Time: The phrase ‘Stop and Smell a Rose’ is pretty apt here. Pre-kids, I would charge through the park to hit as much as possible. With kids, I’ve learned it’s important to take my time and enjoy the journey. Mini-man didn’t care how many, if any, rides we did. He was more interested in taking in his surroundings than riding a lot of rides.
  • Pay Attention: Pre-kids, I would get the park at opening and stay until the park closed. With kids, I’ve learned we need to go at their pace. Its more important for Mini-man to sleep than for me to get to the park early. During the day, if you see the kids getting tired it’s ok to leave the park for some quiet/nap time. If you stay all day, everyone ends up tired and miserable – which is not great memories for anyone. Its more important to have a fun, relaxing day.

I hope these tips help make your visit to a theme park more enjoyable. We Love to know – what tips do you have for enjoying a theme park with your kids?

Theme Parks – Taking Mini-man to Disneyland!

Disneyland – the happiest place on earth. I have a lot of happy memories visiting this park as a child. Now that I am a mom I couldn’t wait to take mini-man to visit these special places.

We started the day slow by checking into our hotel and dropping off our things. It was a very hot day in Anaheim so we took extra time to make sure we all had our sunscreen on and water bottles were filled. Once we were ready we walked over to Disneyland! (I purposely got a hotel within walking distance to the park – it was closer than the Disney hotels and was waaaaaay cheaper).

image

 

 

We went for a classic start of the day – a grand circle tour of the magic kingdom aboard the Disneyland Railroad. Mini-man was confounded at first but started to enjoy it – until the dinosaur scene, which he really didn’t like.

 

 

imageAfter the train, we got off and headed toward the castle. It was a pretty crowded day. Damon and I got frustrated pretty quickly as we were all starting to over heat. Instead of for`aging ahead, like we might have done pre-kids, we stopped at the Hungry Bear Restaurant for food and to cool down. Mini-man got in a quick nap which gave Damon and me time to talk and figure out our next steps. We realized we couldn’t tackle the park like we used to. We needed to slow down and take things ride by ride.

IMG_20150829_152804

When mini-man woke up we headed to the Winnie the Pooh ride. I thought mini-man would like it since kids like Winnie the Pooh. Judging by mini-mans face at the end of the ride he didn’t quite get it. I then realized that indoor rides might be a bit advanced for a six-month old, so we headed Fantasyland for some of the open-aired rides.

 

 

image

 

 

Success! We rode the carousel and Casey Jr. and mini-man loved them both! He couldn’t get enough of looking at all of the scenery happening around him.

 

 

 

image

Now, normally, on a pre-kid trip three rides would not have taken that long. However this took several hours. This combined with the heat and moving extra weight equal three exhausted individuals. We headed back to the hotel to rest up for an evening trip.

image

After wonderful naps we headed back to the park. I really wanted to see the new parade, Paint the Night, and the fireworks show. What I wasn’t expecting were the massive crowds.

 

Mini-man became very overwhelmed by all the people around him. I hoped if we found a quiet spot we could enjoy the parade. What I didn’t take into account was how loud the parade was. I really never realized how loud the parade was. Maybe I’m old now but it was really loud and it freaked out mini-man. We decided it was better all around to leave the park. What made matters worse was as we left the fireworks started and the banging freaked mini-man out even more. This was the final nail in the coffin. I walked as fast as I could toward the exit cuddling a crying mini-man on the way. By the time we made it out of the park mini-man was fast asleep.

image

All-in-all it was a good day. I have some good memories and learned some great lessons. Check out my next post to see my lessons learned.

Update!

image

So I realized that it’s been a while since I’ve posted and thought it would be a good idea to update you on our adventures. Since our sailing trip in May 2015, we’ve:

  • Visited Atlanta
  • Visited Boston
  • Visited Los Angeles
  • Mini-man has completed 11 flights!
  • Cruised the Mexican Riviera
  • Temporarily relocated to California

Due to our move to California, we haven’t had time to do as many sailing trips as we would like. As much as we love sailing, trying to sail with a young child is challenging. Add in a change of scenery and not knowing too many people makes it even harder. So we decided to try a variety of new adventures to acclimate ourselves to our new location and to get mini-man accustomed to a variety of experiences. The good news is we have a sailing excursion planned for next week and cannot wait to tell you all about it.

In the mean time, I will be writing about all of these adventures along with all of our new adventures that we have coming up. Its a big world out there and we are just starting to explore it. I hope you will enjoy the journey with us.

Realizations

image

Today is a sad day for me. Without going into too many details an announcement was made today that hurt me and many of my friends. Its hard to dedicate your work to something you believe in only to have that work be thrown away and makes me look like a liar. I am happy with the announcement but not with how it was done. Its made me realize I need to move forward with my own dreams. I need to stop living for others and the past. I need to move for the positive and for today. So here are my positive affirmations for today:

image

* it’s St. Patrick’s Day – which means corned beef! (one of my favorite things in the world!)
* today mini-man is 13 months old!
* I have a loving and supportive partner in life
* I am traveling more than ever before and I am getting to share these adventures with my son.

I love my life and want to resume sharing it through this forum. It’s been a while but I really miss writing and hope to pick this back up. Who knows what the future holds and I want to write it all down.